(Photo) The Chinese border is being strictly monitored to guard against the spread of the coronavirus. This photo shows a young man and woman talking by the Yalu River. Photographed in September 2019 from the Chinese side of the river, across from Sakju County, North Pyongan Province, by ISHIMARU Jiro

North Korean authorities are reportedly informing residents for the first time of coronavirus outbreaks. Reporting partners in two different areas of North Korea’s northern region reported that residents were informed of the cases at inminban (local political unit) meetings on July 28. (ISHIMARU Jiro/Kang Ji-won)

A reporting partner living in North Pyongan Province and a reporting partner living in North Hamkyung Province delivered the information to ASIAPRESS, with both reporting partners detailing explanations heard from authorities at inminban meetings held on July 28. The announcements were said to both contain the following information:

・There have been cases of infection in Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, and in some areas of Hwanghae Province.
・From now on, contact with people from outside of the region is prohibited. If anyone has entered the area from other regions without permission, they must be immediately reported to the authorities.
・Areas that border China are to be put on high-alert and all efforts will be made to prevent the coronavirus from spreading from China. Those caught smuggling or attempting to cross the border will be severely punished.

The reporting partner from North Pyongan Province said, “Thinking about it now, there have been many signs of the authorities taking countermeasures against coronavirus outbreaks. Restrictions on movement were eased in June but they were tightened again in early July. Freight traffic has also been restricted and traders cannot send their goods by train.”

◆ Sariwon’s ‘Isolation Inns’

The reporting partner from North Hamkyung Province immediately called an acquaintance living in Sariwon to ask about the local situation. The acquaintance was said to give the following explanation:

“In Sariwon, anyone suspected of being infected with coronavirus is banned from going outside until a diagnosis is made. Families are said to be put up in ‘isolation inns’ designated by the authorities. Food for those in quarantine is supposed to be provided by the People’s Committee (local government), rather than by the individuals in quarantine.”

ASIAPRESS reported in mid-July that soldiers were being quarantined after a coronavirus outbreak that occurred in June in a military base in Sariwon. A document that was internally disseminated by the government in mid-June also suggested the occurrence of an outbreak.
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